Pro-reform Iranian journalist arrested
In Iran, controversial pro-reform journalist Hashem Aghajari, who offended the country’s powerful Shiite clergy was arrested on Thursday on a court order issued in Hamadan, IRNA said.
Aghajari had angered the clergy in mid-June when he said Muslims "should not blindly" follow religious leaders and called for a "religious renewal" of Shiite Islam, during a speech delivered in the western city of Hamedan.
He was freed provisionally after posting bail following a July 14 court hearing behind closed doors in Hamadan, however was later accused of "insulting the prophets", a serious charge for which the penalty is death.
He rejected this charge, saying the "judge was not able to show me one phrase of my speech that could be considered an insult to the prophet" of Islam, Mohammed. Aghajari's comments placed the Islamic republic’s conservative and reformist currents at loggerheads - and he was criticized unexpectedly by moderate President Mohammed Khatami in early July. Khatami, himself a mid-ranking cleric, intervened in an attempt to prevent factional tension from getting out of hand.
Several protests have taken place against Aghajari in various cities throughout Iran, especially in the capital of Tehran and the holy city of Qom. (Albawaba.com)
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